A prerequisite for the successful implementation of a project is comprehensive research. This is exactly what we are currently doing – we identify and analyse existing academic and practical work on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in SMEs.

We would like to learn more about the status quo of CSR in SMEs and find out what obstacles SMEs face when implementing CSR. Furthermore, we are looking for best practices that can provide inspiration and motivation for a successful implementation of a CSR strategy. We, thevisionworks, have a particular focus on IO3, the development of a self-assessment for SMEs on CSR readiness. By analysing the literature, we hope to get some clues for the structure and content of the assessment. The assessment should support SMEs in developing company-specific strategies and measures based on a sound analysis of their specific impact areas and benefits.

There is a lot of information in the literature on the benefits of CSR – in addition to future security, competitive advantages, cost reduction, and the contribution to solving ecological, social and economic problems, reputation enhancement and image are also repeatedly mentioned in the context. Many may not be aware that this also entails a risk for companies: the accusation of so-called greenwashing. Greenwashing companies merely pretend to operate sustainably. If greenwashing becomes public, the loss of reputation for the company concerned can also damage the reputation of ambitious CSR actors. The success of CSR policy therefore depends to a large extent on creating credibility and preventing the suspicion of greenwashing from arising in the first place. We find this question of what SMEs can concretely do to clearly distinguish themselves from greenwashing a particularly exciting point in the context of our research and look forward to further findings as well as the research results of our European project partners.